Category Archives: Health

7 Cycles in My Day

Have you ever asked the questions: Why do I feel so good after a Nia Class?  Why do I feel joyful, aligned with my body and life, and so full of Life Force Energy after a whole hour of fitness?  Let me tell you! Nia is a science.  There is a method and a reason behind it all.  The yin and yang balanced movement, invitation to choose JOY, conscious awareness of the body’s voice, great music, and shinning your uniqueness is all part of it.  Nia is a holistic fitness class, and also a holistic lifestyle practice that you can take with you through your day.  A Nia class is a blend of Form and Freedom, both parts as important as each other.  The class format comes in a nice little flowing package that has 7 cycles.   The 7 cycles reflect the natural timing of the human body, and an ideal daily routine.  Together the cycles resemble a wave, or a mountain peak, ascending, peaking and descending, like the painting by Anthony Nugent of Mt Ticogan and Mt Chincogan.  Each Nia class has an energy intensity peak, as does the fluid cycle of our day. I have been playing with this in my daily life and it is having a profound effect on my energy levels, mood, and connection to myself and the world around me. These are the 7 cycles of a Nia Class Format and the way that I use them to send me soaring through my day with power, grace, and JOY.

1st Cycle is Focus and Intent. The Focus gives a guide to what and where to mindfully place your attention during the class. The Intent is the motivation and the “why” for the Focus. Just as we begin a Nia Class, I also begin every day with setting a Focus and Intent.  I do it when I first wake in the morning, bringing me clarity and purpose to pursue my day.

2nd Cycle is Stepping In.  Stepping in is a sensed as becoming centered and grounded. It is a conscious action of stepping into the moment and leaving distractions behind. I step into my day by brushing my teeth, tongue scrapping, and doing a coconut oil mouthwash (leaving distractions of yesterday’s bad breath behind!) Then I practice the Nia 5 stages of self healing followed by melting the fascia of my hands and feet using Sue Hitzman’s MELT method.  This mindfully brings me into my body and my day.

3rd Cycle is Warm Up. Warm Up is sensed as gentle and directed movement and increasing body heat and fluidity through the muscles and joints. The 13 joints are isolated and integrated as the heart-rate increases and the breath is blended into the body’s movements.  I get warmed up for my day by jumping into the kitchen and preparing a wholesome breakfast for my family, sitting down to eat and welcoming the food, and then usually having a nice showering and getting dressed and organised for the day’s activities.

4th Cycle is Get Moving. Get Moving is really ‘moving it’ through the space with more dynamic energy.  The breath and heart-rate accelerate even more while the body senses flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability.  Once my day is warm I really get going. Running errands, taking kids to school, laundry, shopping, cooking, learning, working, emails etc.  It is the dynamic part of the day that lasts from about 9am-5pm.  It is the time when tasks are accomplished, creativity is sparked, lunch is digested, community is engaged, and the momentum of productivity creates a flow that keeps the afternoon buzzing (this may not happen if I don’t actually go through the previous cycles properly, then I might feel tired and yucky, especially around 3pm. Just like if in a Nia class I skipped a few cycles, I wouldn’t sustain my energy or I’d hurt myself or something.)

5th Cycle is Cool Down.  Cool Down is sensed as a deceleration in breathing and heart-rate while the body heat decreases and your movements become more calm and integrated.  After all that yang time earlier in the day the cool down is my time to slow down, still in action, but much slower and softer.  I welcome yin energy, reflecting, sharing dinner and stories with my family and enjoying the fruits of the day.

6th Cycle is FloorPlay.  FloorPlay is sensed as moving in relationship to the floor with attention on gravity and play using structured and unstructured movement. Flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability is explored with new ways of moving on the floor.  In this cycle I am relaxing a bit deeper, moving even more consciously to take care of what I am needing, getting my kids to bed, reading and putting my feet up.

7th Cycle is Stepping Out.  Stepping out is sensed as a quiet, focused and centered conclusion in preparation for what is to come next. I step out of my day by getting snuggly in bed, giving thanks for the day and breathing deeply into sleep. (sleep is a whole other cycle of its own and will be very much impacted by the day that came before it, just as our day is impacted by the Nia class that came before it!)

The 7 Cycles of a Nia Class are directly related to the body’s way. The natural cycles that our bodies experience are repeated on a daily basis, we can choose to ignore or tune into them.  The 7 cycles are even reflected in the cycle of a human life – conception (Focus and Intent), birth (Stepping In), childhood (Warm Up), young adulthood (Get Moving), middle aged (Cool Down), elderly (FloorPlay or other horizontal location), and dying (Stepping Out).

We always have the opportunity to listen to our body’s wisdom and what it is really needing in each moment no matter what stage of life we are in. Seeking guidance, using tools, and learning new information are also ways to provide inspiration when we need it.  Every day is a new day.  One thing that I experience to be true to me is that when I honour my natural life cycle I experience less pain, better health, more energy, mental clarity, balanced emotions and far more JOY!  Nia is a really excellent fitness class, and it is an even better lifestyle model!  Love and Blessings!

Starting from the ground up

In a Classic Nia class the teacher often begins by inviting students to come into their feet.  The feet, also known in Nia as the “hands that touch the Earth,” provide a foundation upon which we evolve.  They are our connection to Earth. Pushing our feet into the Earth gives rise to our whole being.

I used to tell the story that I had weakness in my feet and ankles because I had high arches.  After exploring further the anatomy of the foot I realised that I just had an arch like everyone else.  In fact, the foot has three arches and has a very intricate and complex structure.  Each of your feet has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments!  Knowing this information made me confident that I could heal my feet and forget that old story.

My new tool, provided by Nia Trainer Sophie Marsh, was to sense a water fountain shooting up through the center of my foot.  The empowerment to self-heal and really ground through my feet was tremendous.  I was on a mission and became very focused on the sensation and placement of my feet as I went about my life.  The next tool that played in my head like a mantra with every step I took was “heel, outside arch, ball of the foot, big toe.”  I played, walked in all different ways, and waited for my body to say “yes” that feels stable and elegant. I practiced and practiced as I walked in the grocery store, on the beach, and as I danced in class.  It was fun!

The results on my overall wellbeing were a blessing!  My posture improved, my lower back became stable, my neck and shoulders were loose, pain disappeared, and my psoas, core and pelvic muscles were so happy to be engaged (didn’t even need to do a single sit up!)  Feeling good in my body enlivened my spirit and helped me come into my unique power. We must never forget the importance of our feet!